Tag Archives: children’s fiction

2022 LOLLIES shortlist – Vote now!

Disclosure. Originally I would have received a free pack of 4 of the shortlisted titles, but due to a change in circumstances, it seemed appropriate that the pack should continue to go to the students where I previously worked.

I am thrilled to have been selected as a LOL Crew ambassador for the LOLLIES Laugh Out Loud 2022 Book Awards. These celebrate the best and funniest children’s books in the UK and Ireland, voted for by children. Shortlisting has already taken place, by a panel of judges including Michael Rosen and now you have until 10 December to place your vote.

Lollies Crew 2022

The shortlisted titles in the age 9-13 category are as follows:-

Little Badman and the Invasion of the Killer Aunties by Humza Arshad and Henry White
The Super Miraculous Journey of Freddie Yates by Jenny Pearson
Kay’s Anatomy by Adam Kay
Zombierella: Fairy Tales Gone Bad by Joseph Coelho

2022 lollies award 9-13 shortlist

Here I share my thoughts on the titles shortlisted in the age 9-13 category. I’ve read two in print format and listened to the other two in audiobook format, all borrowed from the library.


Little Badman and the Invasion of the Killer Aunties by Humza Arshad and Henry White

Little Badman and the Invasion of the Killer Aunties by Humza Arshad and Henry White

“You’ve probably heard of me, right? Little Badman. No? Oh. Well. . . Doesn’t matter. You will do one day. I’m gonna be big.”
I’m Humza Khan, the greatest eleven-year-old rapper Eggington has ever known; soon everyone will know my name.
Only problem is school has got really weird, man. All my teachers are disappearing and our aunties are taking over.
It wasn’t too bad at the start, they keep feeding us delicious snacks. Like, all the time.
But now these aunties are trying to mess with my music, so me and my best friends Umer and Wendy are going to hunt for the truth. Cos something big and bad is going on and we won’t let anything mess with my music… or you know, the world.

A hilarious and fast-paced adventure from comedian Humza Arshad and screen writer Henry White, perfect for fans of David Solomons and David Baddiel.

I listened to the audiobook version of this title and it was so funny. This was the first Little Badman title I’ve read and I’ll certainly be reading some more. The authors have come up with a brilliant hilarious storyline. Definitely the one that got my vote in the LOLLIES!



The Super Miraculous Journey of Freddie Yates by Jenny Pearson

The Super Miraculous Journey of Freddie Yates by Jenny Pearson

When people ask me if I would do anything differently in my journey if I were to do it all again, I tell them I would take more underpants.

Facts are everything to Freddie Yates―once you know one, it’s yours to keep. After his grandmother dies, Freddie has to face the facts: his family has now dwindled to just him and his accident-prone stepdad. When Freddie discovers his biological father might be alive and well in Wales, he decides it’s time to get back a family member. Together with his best friends Ben and Charlie, he sneaks off on the adventure of a lifetime (or at least, the summer vacation) to track him down.
Freddie doesn’t expect miracles―they’re not real, after all. But as their road trip gets out of hand and the three boys unwittingly set off a chain of hilarious and unlikely events involving an onion-eating competition, stolen superhero costumes, an angry jewel thief, and some very backed-up plumbing, Freddie discovers that some things can’t be explained―and that sometimes what you’re looking for has been with you the whole time.

Propulsive and laugh-out-loud funny, The Super Miraculous Journey of Freddie Yates is a heartwarming story about the true meaning of family.

A funny mystery with plenty of mishaps thrown in, as Freddie tries to find his biological father. A great read with lovely illustrations. Sensitively written too. A close second which narrowly missed out on my vote.



Kay's Anatomy by Adam Kay

Kay’s Anatomy by Adam Kay

Discover all the weird and wonderful things that go on inside your body with Adam Kay. Covers key stage 2 / 3 human biology syllabus (in a slightly repulsive way).

‘Hilarious and fascinating! I wish Adam had been my biology teacher’ – Konnie Huq

Do you ever think about your body and how it all works? Like really properly think about it? The human body is extraordinary and fascinating and, well . . . pretty weird. Yours is weird, mine is weird, your maths teacher’s is even weirder.

This book is going to tell you what’s actually going on in there, and answer the really important questions, like:

Are bogeys safe to eat? Look, if your nose is going to all that effort of creating a snack, the least we can do is check out its nutritional value. (Yes, they’re safe. Chew away!)
And how much of your life will you spend on the toilet? About a year – so bring a good book. (I recommend this one.)
So sit back, relax, put on some rubber gloves, and let a doctor take you on a poo (and puke) filled tour of your insides. Welcome to Kay’s Anatomy*.

*a fancy word for your body. See, you’re learning already.

A yucky funny non-fiction book describing the human body, guaranteed to make you laugh whilst educational too. The humour encompassing poo and bogeys will certainly appeal to the target age audience. Great illustrations too.



Zombierella by Joseph Coelho

Zombierella: Fairy Tales Gone Bad by Joseph Coelho

The first in a funny, deliciously dark, three-part series of twisted classics, written in verse by award-winning poet Joseph Coelho and illustrated by Freya Hartas.

A yellow moon hangs in a satin sky the night Cinderella, barefoot and in hand-me-downs, slips at the top of the stairs … and dies. But not for long. The Shadow of Death arrives to breathe life back into her bones and, for three nights only, Cinderella goes forth as ZOMBIERELLA. With her skin as cold as ice and her faithful horse Lumpkin back by her side, can she seek revenge on her three cruel, fake sisters, once and for all?

Crawl out of the grave and step into your mushroom carriage for this haunting and humorous adventure of the undead girl searching for her happily ever after.

I listened to the audiobook version of this title which is a unique twist on the classic tale of Cinderella in verse. Rather dark, so suitable for age 11+ in my opinion and not quite so funny as the other three short-listed titles. But definitely an ideal Halloween read.


I haven’t read the books in the younger age categories but here are the shortlisted titles.

Lollies 2022 Picture book shortlist

Lollies 2022 age 6-8 book shortlist

So which titles get your vote?

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Dragon’s Future by Kandi J Wyatt – book review

Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I downloaded for free.  All opinions are my own.

I have received a free e-copy of the book Dragon’s Future by Kandi J Wyatt to review. You may find out more about the author on her website.

Dragon's Future by Kandi J Wyatt

Here is the book blurb.

Trapped in a boring life, Carryl longs for something different. With the death of a dragon rider, she realizes her dream of becoming a rider herself. But first she must save the despondent dragon’s life.

Ruskya has settled into his new role as a dragon rider. A sinister rider has attacked the colony. The fate of all that Ruskya holds dear lies in his hands.

Ruskya and Carryl step into leadership roles to defend the colony and their village. Now they battle dragons and their own insecurities. They’ll need the courage of a dragon to defeat their enemies or die trying.

Dragon’s Future is the fabulous first book in the coming of age fantasy series Dragon Courage. If you like enticing worlds, captivating stories, and a new twist on dragon lore, you’ll love Kandi J Wyatt’s fantastic series.

This is the first title in the Dragon Courage series.

The story begins with a prologue set 15 years earlier when twins Duskya and Ruskya, then aged 10 were both selected at the annual procession by the dragons Wryn and Wyeth to become their respective riders. They leave their mother Meredyth and village home to go live at the Three Spans Canyon dragon colony where Glendyn will train them as riders.

Now it is Ruskya’s turn to train Kyn, the latest youngling to join. At the same time he is also developing his mental control, mind reading and communication powers, plus learning what his father’s role with the dragons was.

Meanwhile riders from another colony attack both them and the village. Why are they under attack? One of their group is killed. Can Carryl, a healer save the grieving dragon? More deaths of villagers follow. As they try to defend, one of them is kidnapped along with a dragon. How will this all end?

A good story, but I did find it difficult to remember whose dragon was who’s as all the dragon names are fairly similar. And I did feel that the way the riders continually addressed each other was just superfluous padding to the book, eg “Honoured Rider, may your dragon fly straight and true”.

Dragon’s Future is available on Amazon free in Kindle format, or alternatively may be purchased in paperback or audiobook. A fantastical adventure read for older children and teens.

I’ve also previously read the Myth Coast Adventures trilogy by this author and here are the links to my reviews of those titles.
An Unexpected Adventure
An Unexpected Escapade
An Unexpected Exploit

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Crusade by Elizabeth Laird – book review

My latest personal choice of read, rather than a requested book review is Crusade by Elizabeth Laird. To find out more about the author you may visit her website.

Crusade by Elizabeth Laird

Here is the book blurb.

Two boys. Two faiths. One unholy war . . .

When Adam’s mother dies unconfessed, he pledges to save her soul with dust from the Holy Land. Employed as a dog-boy for the local knight, Adam grabs the chance to join the Crusade to reclaim Jerusalem. He burns with determination to strike down the infidel enemy . . .

Salim, a merchant’s son, is leading an uneventful life in the port of Acre – until news arrives that a Crusader attack is imminent. To keep Salim safe, his father buys him an apprenticeship with an esteemed, travelling doctor. But Salim’s employment leads him to the heart of Sultan Saladin’s camp – and into battle against the barbaric and unholy invaders . . .

This adventure story is set about 1000 years ago in the times of the Crusaders.

Chapters alternate between the stories of two boys starting with 13 year old Salim, a Muslim boy in Acre. He is upset because his father is sending him away from home to be apprenticed to Jewish Dr Musa, as the Frankish army is expected to arrive imminently. The plan is to travel to Damascus, but instead they end up in Saladin’s camp, outside the walls of Acre.

In chapter two we are introduced to 14 year old English peasant boy Adam on the day his mother is buried. He is saved from destitution by Lord Guy, who employs him to help look after his hounds. But Adam also wants to save his mother’s soul, as she died unconfessed. He needs dust from Jerusalem, so he leaps at the chance to go too when Lord Guy joins the Holy Crusade.

We follow the tales of the two boys until eventually their paths cross.

Crusade is an excellent book, targeted at YA readers from about age 11+. A great historical read.

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An Unexpected Exploit by Kandi J Wyatt – book review

Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

I have received a free e-copy of the book An Unexpected Exploit by Kandi J Wyatt to review. You may find out more about the author on her website.

An Unexpected Exploit by Kandi J Wyatt

Here is the book blurb.

Protect a mythical realm or his family? Sixteen-year-old Franklin follows a Sasquatch through a portal to the realm of Shinwano and discovers a world full of mythical creatures he never expected to actually exist. Upon returning to Myrtle Beach, Oregon, he vows to protect the land, not realizing how difficult it will be to keep his promise, especially when a poacher, a NSA agent, and his friends are interested in the portal—and all for different reasons. When the poacher threatens his family, Franklin must reconsider his vow to protect this new world to keep his family safe. The consequences of his decision reach further than just a rift in the space-time continuum. Can Franklin live up to the trust placed on him and save this new world from an even greater danger?

This is the third title in the Myth Coast Adventures trilogy, set in the small town of Myrtle Beach in Oregon. They can be read as stand alone reads, but I found them better to read in sequence as they do refer to happenings in earlier books. However the main protagonist Franklin is a new character.

Here are the links to my reviews of the first two titles.
An Unexpected Adventure
An Unexpected Escapade

The story starts with Franklin out hunting in the forest when he spots a creature larger than a bear but with a human-like face, which almost immediately disappears. Could it be a sasquatch, bigfoot or yeti? Franklin investigates and discovers a portal. Throwing caution to the wind, he steps through but Ladaku is waiting and knocks him out. When he awakes he finds he is in an alternate world Shinwano full of mythological creatures.

Whilst the dhoka (portal) is closed, Franklin agrees to train as a keta-manisa to protect the dhoka from other humans. Meanwhile back in our world he has been declared missing and teams including Will, Ana, Harley, Cherise and Winston from earlier books, are out searching for him, worried because bad guy poacher Jack Collins is hanging round town again.

When the dhoka finally reopens, Franklin reluctantly leaves his new friends to come back home. But soon he faces a difficult situation when he discovers Jack Collins has tied up his mum and brother Jeremy and is giving them electric shocks.

How will Franklin react and what will ensue? Certainly a page turner and my only small complaint is that the series titles are too similar.

The book also contains a glossary of Shinwano words.

An Unexpected Exploit is available on Amazon in Kindle format or paperback. A great adventure fantasy read for older children and teens.

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Malamander by Thomas Taylor – book review

My latest personal choice of read, rather than a requested book review is Malamander by Thomas Taylor. To find out more about the author you may visit his website. I discovered there that he illustrated the original cover for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

Malamander by Thomas Taylor

Here is the book blurb.

Nobody visits Eerie-on-Sea in the winter. Especially not when darkness falls and the wind howls around Maw Rocks and the wreck of the battleship Leviathan, where even now some swear they have seen the unctuous Malamander creep…

Herbert Lemon, Lost-and-Founder at the Grand Nautilus Hotel, knows that returning lost things to their rightful owners is not easy – especially when the lost thing is not a thing at all, but a girl. No one knows what happened to Violet Parma’s parents twelve years ago, and when she engages Herbie to help her find them, the pair discover that their disappearance might have something to do with the legendary sea-monster, the Malamander. Eerie-on-Sea has always been a mysteriously chilling place, where strange stories seem to wash up. And it just got stranger…

This is the first book in the Eerie-on-Sea series.

When you open the book, there is a map of Eerie-on-Sea, a seaside town, which I kept referring back to as I read the story. I do love a map to illustrate a tale.

The story draws you in with fabulous descriptive language right from the start as we get introduced to young Herbie, who is the Lost-and-Founder at the Grand Nautilus Hotel. His usual remit is lost luggage but the mysterious girl Violet Parma comes especially to see him, declaring she is lost and wants to be found, although obviously not by the scary Boathook Man from whom she hides.

Mystery, adventure detective story, myth, legend, monster, fantasy – this book has it all. The characters and settings are all portrayed wonderfully.

Malamander is a great book, targeted at readers from about age 9-12. A captivating read. I’m certainly looking forward to finding out what happens in Gargantis, book 2 at Eerie-on-Sea. And the author is currently writing the third title Shadowghast, which will be published later this year.

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An Unexpected Escapade by Kandi J Wyatt – book review

Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

I have received a free e-copy of the book An Unexpected Escapade by Kandi J Wyatt to review. You may find out more about the author on her website.

An Unexpected Escapade by Kandi J Wyatt

Here is the book blurb.

A greedy poacher threatens a unicorn Daisy finds hiding among her horses. Daisy will do anything to protect the magical creature, even if it means losing her best friend.

The only ones who understand Daisy’s struggles at school are her horses and Kajri, the unicorn that appeared out of nowhere. Kajri wants to go home, but Daisy doesn’t know how to help.

Ana wants to help Daisy, but her parents are sick. The unicorn horn could be the key to saving them. Yet her actions could be the death of both the unicorn and her friendship with Daisy.

An Unexpected Escapade is a refreshing middle grade fantasy in the Myth Coast Adventures trilogy. If you like fun kid fantasy, amazing characters and realistic endings, you’ll love Kandi J Wyatt’s stunning continuation of the Myth Coast Adventures. Explore An Unexpected Escapade to allow your dreams to fly!

This is the second title in the Myth Coast Adventures trilogy, set in the small town of Myrtle Beach in Oregon. You may wish to read my review of the first book An Unexpected Adventure before this.

The prologue introduces us to Kajri the unicorn who mysteriously passes from her world to ours. She wants to go back home.

8th grader (Yr9) Daisy, who lives with her mum and two horses Ginger and Root, is the first to see Kajri. She tells her best friend Ana and the next time they see her together in the forest. Ana then tells Will who helps her Dad out on the boats. Will (from book 1) warns Ana to keep it secret, especially from Professor Raleigh.

Meanwhile NSA agent Winston Raleigh whose sensors have detected a rift, traces a signal from beyond Daisy’s home. Will he be able to capture the mythical creature to take to the sanctuary?

But Winston is not the only one tracking the unicorn. Nasty cruel poacher Jack Collins wants the unicorn’s horn and tears.

What will happen? Plenty more events to unfold in this story. Who should the girls turn to for help?

An Unexpected Escapade is available on Amazon in Kindle format or paperback. A great book for older children and teens with lots to engage with.

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How to be a Hero by Cat Weldon – book review

Disclosure. This post is a review of a book I was sent for free.. All opinions are my own.

I received a free proof copy of the book How to be a Hero by Cat Weldon to review. To find out more about the author you may visit her website.

How to be a Hero by Cat Weldon

Here is the book blurb.

A no-good viking thief. The worst-ever trainee valkyrie. An ungodly case of mistaken identity.

When failing trainee valkyrie Lotta mistakes an unconscious viking thief, Whetstone, for a fallen hero and takes him triumphantly to Valhalla, things are definitely not turning out to be epic or glorious. Having lost a precious talking cup, Whetstone is also desperate to cover up his mistake and the two embark on a quarrelsome journey to find it and regain their heroic status. But Loki the trickster God is desperate to get his hands on the cup with a plan to unleash chaos across the nine worlds. Can Whetstone prove himself a hero after all when it matters most?

The first in a hilarious and fast-paced trilogy about how to be brave, what it means to be a hero and just how confusing the Norse Gods really are. Fully illustrated throughout, Cat Weldon’s How to Be a Hero is perfect for fans of How to Train Your Dragon and Who Let the Gods Out.

I was hoping to get a review from my younger son for this book, as he is very interested in Norse  mythology. However as we have reached the publication date and he still hasn’t started reading the book, you’ll have to make do with just a review from me.

The book draws you in with a couple of double page illustrations at the front. We have the nine worlds all hanging from the huge Yggdrasil tree with Asgard at the top. And then a map of Krud in Midgard, where the story opens, featuring signs like “Ivor the Nose Grinder, Gerroff My Land! Travelling Minstrels will be force fed Cabbage till they burst!” Just the sort of humour that will particularly appeal to young readers. The book has been illustrated by Katie Kear brilliantly.

I’m not very knowledgeable on Norse Mythology but the story all tied in with what I do know of Norse gods and worlds. Loki the trickster god and his son Vali certainly cause havoc in this tale.

The story begins with Whetstone, an orphan aged about 12, stealing a magical golden talking cup from Awfulrick, the Viking chief of Krud, on behalf of Light Finger, the greatest thief in all the known world. We then swap to Asgard to introduce Lotta who is of a similar age, and is training to be a Valkyrie in class 3 but not doing too well. Class 3’s next mission will be the first time they leave Asgard and they will be travelling to Midgard to collect fallen warriors to fill Valhalla.

Whetstone then hides the cup before taking cover himself. But things don’t go quite to plan. He is attacked and left unconscious. Lotta, finds him and assumes he is dead, so takes him back to Asgard as a “fallen hero”, Whoops.

The two have to then pair up to sort out the mess they are in. Lots of fun. Plus throw a dragon into the mix. The book finished leaving me tantalising clues ready for books 2 and 3 in the trilogy, but I’ll have to wait as book 2 doesn’t publish until the summer.

How to be a Hero is a great fun fantasy mythological adventure read, which I highly recommend to children age 9-12. Newly published today.

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Jimmy Coates: Killer by Joe Craig – book review

My latest personal choice of read, rather than a requested book review is Jimmy Coates: Killer by Joe Craig. To find out more about the author you may visit his website.

Jimmy Coates Killer by Joe Craig

Here is the book blurb.

An eleven-year-old boy discovers he has strange powers, and a future that holds mystery, adventure – and death!

Bending his knees, Jimmy let go of the windowsill and slowly tipped backwards. Surely this is impossible, he thought, even as he could feel himself doing it. He pushed out with his legs and the thrust sent him flying backwards into the air… Then his fingers locked on to the cold wire of the fence, poised in a perfect handstand on the top.

Who are the mysterious men chasing Jimmy across the city?
Why are they after him?
What are Jimmy’s parents keeping from him and who can he trust?
And how come he can suddenly do all this really cool stuff…?

This is the first book in the Jimmy Coates series and was published back in 2005.

The story begins with Jimmy discovering he can jump through the upstairs closed window and fall onto the concrete feeling no pain, when trying to evade the strangers who have mysteriously arrived at his home to take him away from his family. He hides under the car, as they lead his parents away but his older sister Georgie manages to run off.

He eventually makes his way to the police station, but they seem just as suspicious as the others, so he legs it out of there.

Why is everyone after him?
Who can he trust?
How has he suddenly got these mysterious super powers?
Where have his parents been taken?
Where is Georgie?

Gradually things become clearer to Jimmy but it doesn’t make his decisions any easier. Plenty of twists and turns to come in this story set in the Neo-Democratic State of Great Britain.

Jimmy Coates: Killer is an excellent book, targeted at readers from about age 10-14. A great read that had me immediately adding books 2-7 to my TBR list.

Spoiler Alert. The only disappointing thing is when you reach the back of the book and it mentions the website www.jimmycoates.co.uk with lots of fun activities, secret files, etc, but when I visited, all I found was a Google map to explore Jimmy’s World. However the map features locations from all books in the series.

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Over Sea Under Stone by Susan Cooper – book review

My latest personal choice of read, rather than a requested book review is Over Sea Under Stone by Susan Cooper. To find out more about the author you may visit her website.

Over Sea Under Stone by Susan Cooper

Here is the book blurb.

On holiday in Cornwall, Simon, Jane and Barney Drew discover an ancient map in the attic of the Grey House, where they are staying with their mysterious Great-Uncle Merry. They know immediately that it is special. But it is much more than just a map. It is the start of a quest to find a grail, a source of great power that could contain – or resurrect – the powerful, age-old forces of evil in the world. And the Drews are not the only ones searching for it.

This is the first book in the award-winning Dark Is Rising Sequence. It is a classic written in the 1960’s, but remains a thrilling read today. I was an avid reader as a child, so I am surprised that I never read any of Susan Cooper’s books back then.

It starts with Mr and Mrs Drew and their three children, Simon, Jane and Barney arriving on the train in Cornwall. Their Great-Uncle Merry (Professor Lyon) has rented an old holiday home in Trewissick from Captain Toms, whilst he is abroad. Rufus the dog and Mrs Palk the housekeeper both come with the house. Simon, Jane and Barney discover an ancient Arthurian treasure map, written in medieval Latin, whilst exploring in the attic. But Mr and Miss Withers from the yacht in the bay who initially try to befriend the Drews are also after the treasure, along with other bad people.

Danger, decoys, burglary, chases, night time adventures, snooping and kidnapping ensue whilst the children with Great Uncle Merry’s help try to follow the quest for the grail.

Over Sea Under Stone is a fabulous book for older children and teens. A great page turner which weaves Arthurian legend into the story.

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Survival by Chris Ryan – book review

My latest personal choice of read, rather than a requested book review is Survival by Chris Ryan. To find out more about the author you may visit his website, although this only details his books for adults and not his children’s fiction.

Survival by Chris Ryan

Here is the book blurb.

Alex, Li, Paulo, Hex and Amber are five teenagers on board a sailing ship crewed by young people from all over the world. Together they are marooned on a desert island. And together they must face the ultimate test – survival! Battling against unbelievable dangers – from killer komodo dragons to sharks and modern day pirates – the five must combine all their knowledge and skills if they are to stay alive.

The team – Alpha Force – is born …

This is the first book in the Alpha Force series.

This book pulls you in right from the opening sentence of a very exciting prologue. It only takes an instant to die…

Alex, Li, Paulo, Hex and Amber are on board the Phoenix, which is being crewed by young people as an eco-voyage. They make up A-Watch reporting to Heather, but they haven’t bonded as a team, continually rubbing each other up the wrong way. After another mess, Heather bans them from dinner and tonight’s film. She doesn’t want to see them again today. But Amber comes up with a plan to raid the galley and have a picnic in the little rowing boat bobbing along behind the Phoenix.

However after eating they all nod over to sleep, but they wake a couple of hours later to discover they are adrift heading north, with no sign of the Phoenix, which had been on an eastward course. Alex has his survival tin and knife, but there isn’t much else useful on the boat. They then take a battering from a shark attack, before finally spotting land, beyond a deadly reef  on which they capsize.

Can they all make it to shore? This is where the prologue fits in, between chapters 7 and 8, And what then? Can they pool their individual key skills and survive?

And I loved how at the end, we get treated to Chris Ryan’s top ten tips for survival in tropical conditions. He is certainly the expert, with his SAS background.

Survival is an excellent book, suitable from about age 11 upwards. A real page turner with a great underlying message about working as a team.

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